Islam

Brief Summary

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The summary includes:

  1. God: Allah
  2. Prophet: Muhammad
  3. Heaven & hell
  4. Main positive influence on the world history
  5. Representative material for this worldview: The Qur’an
  6. Symbols: star and crescent, moon, the green color, the number 5/Hamsa, Hand of Fatima.

Islam is the mohotheistic religion started in the 7th century, articulated by the Qur’an– a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Allah), and by the teachings and normative example of Muhammad, considered to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim.

Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through the prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

Muslims maintain that previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time, but consider the Qur’an to be both the unaltered and the final revelation from God.

Religious concepts and practices include the 5 Pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, encompassing everything from banking and welfare, to warfare and the environment.

The Qur’an presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are (1) the shahadah (creed), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) almsgiving (zakah), (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.

Most Muslims belong to one of 2 denominations; with 80-90% being Sunni and 10-20% being Shia.

With about 1.41-1.57 billion Muslims, comprising about 21-23% of the world’s population see Islam by country), Islam is the second-largest religion in the world.

 

God: Allah

In Islam, the name Allah is the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name. All other divine names are believed to refer back to Allah. Allah is unique, the only Deity, creator of the universe and omnipotent. (The concepts associated with the term Allah -as a deity- used to differ among religious Arab traditions. In pre-Islamic Arabia amongst pagan Arabs, Allah was not considered the sole divinity, having associates and companions, sons and daughters)

 

Prophet: Muhammad

Muhammad (ca. 570/571 – June 8, 632) was the founder of the religion of Islam and is considered by Muslims to be a messenger and prophet of God, the last law-bearer in a series of Islamic prophets, and, by most Muslims, the last prophet of God as taught by the Qur’an.

He was also active as a diplomat, merchant, philosopher, orator, legislator, reformer, military general, and, according to Muslim belief, an agent of divine action.

Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was born in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) in 570 after Christ. His father died before he was born and his mum when he was 6 years old. He was raised by his grandfather. He became a camel rider and then a merchant. While he was 26, he married a woman called Khadija who was 40 years old and was previously married 4 times. Despite the age gap, they had 6 children together. During his lifetime, the Arabic world was worshipping more than 360 gods, one for each day of the year. For the last 23 years of his life, beginning at age 40, Muhammad reported receiving revelations from God. The content of these revelations, known as the Qur’an, was memorized and recorded by his companions.

During this time, Muhammad preached to the people of Mecca, imploring them to abandon polytheism. Although some converted to Islam, Muhammad and his followers were persecuted by the leading Meccan authorities. After 13 years of preaching, Muhammad and the Muslims performed many battles to convert people to Islam. Under Abu Bakr the successor nominated by Muhammad himself, the first jihads (the ‘holy wars’) were started and Islam began to spread. Jihad is associated with Islam and is considered by some the 6th pillar.

 

Heaven & hell

The Islamic view of Paradise (firdaws), also called “The Garden” (Janna), is a place of physical and spiritual pleasure, with lofty mansions (39:20, 29:58-59), delicious food and drink (52:22, 52:19, 38:51), and virgin companions called houris (56:17-19, 52:24-25, 76:19, 56:35-38, 37:48-49, 38:52-54, 44:51-56, 52:20-21). It is destined to those whose good works have outweighed the bad as determined by the straight path laid out in the Qur’an. There are seven heavens (17:46, 23:88, 41:11, 65:12).

Hell, or Jahannam (Greek gehenna), is mentioned frequently in the Qur’an and the Sunnah using a variety of imagery. It has seven doors (Qur’an 39:71; 15:43) leading to a fiery crater of various levels, the lowest of which contains the tree Zaqqum and a cauldron of boiling pitch. Suffering is both physical and spiritual.

Islam teaches that the level of heaven and hell one is sent to after one’s life depends on the degree of good works/offenses one has done during his/her lifetime.

 

Main positive influence on the world history

It started during the medieval period when the Arabic peninsula has conquered ½ of Byzanthin Asia, Perse and the whole Egypte, North Africa and then Spain. One of the most important phenomenons of the medieval period is the Arabs conquest of half of the Mediteranean world.

The Golden Age of Islam (800-1000/1200) is the period during which Islamic scholars translated Greek, Indian and Persian texts, studied them, and helped to further investigations in the areas of math, science and medicine.

According to historians, the oldest university in the world which is still functioning is the eleven hundred-year-old Islamic university of Fes, Morocco, known as the Qarawiyyin.

(Sources:Wikipedia, Guinness Book of Records)


Representative material for this worldview: The Qur’an

Muslims believe that the Qur’an was verbally revealed through the angel Jibrīl from God to Muhammad gradually over a period of approximately twenty-three years beginning in 610 CE, when Muhammad was forty, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. They also claim that the Qur’an was precisely memorized, recited and exactly written down by Muhammad’s companions, called Sahabas, after each revelation has been dictated by Muhammad.

There are 114 chapters in the Qur’an, which is written in the old Arabic dialect.

Translations of the Qur’an exist in over 40 languages but Muslims are still taught to learn and recite it in Arabic, even if this is not their native language and they cannot converse in it.

(Sources: Wikipedia, BBC Religions)

 

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